Tim Cook, CEO of technology giant Apple, is on a mission to make coding a universal skill.
“Apple is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day by making coding more inclusive for students across the country. Because when we say Everyone Can Code, we mean everyone,” he tweeted on May 17. That tweet was about Apple’s new efforts to bring their coding curricula to schools for blind and deaf students across the country.
The program, called Everyone Can Code, teaches Apple’s Swift programming language.
“We designed Swift to be easy to use. It lets you see what you’re creating with code as you write it,” says Apple’s website. It’s intended to be intuitive for people without a tech background and is already in use by people designing apps for the iOS platform.
Working with an initial eight schools, Apple is using its VoiceOver tool to let vision-impaired students interact with the lesson material. A tactile map is also in the works, to let them “see” the code as they write it. As they work with these schools, they want to expand and refine the program to include as many effective teaching techniques as they can. Everyone Can Code means everyone, regardless of ability or learning style.
“If you get coders and computer scientists accessibility-aware from the beginning, as they go out and get jobs putting these systems together they can push and say, ‘hey we really need to make this accessible. It’s not a big deal, let’s just do it,’” says Don Barrett, one of the members of the American Council of the Blind. This mindset is already evidenced by Apple’s iPhone X, which has the VoiceOver tool as a default part of its operating system. Just triple-click the home button, and the phone reads aloud whatever you hover your finger over.
The initial schools participating in the Everyone Can Code effort include the California Schools for the Blind and Deaf, the Texas Schools for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Deaf, Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, District 75 in New York City, and Perkins School for the Blind.
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